Harper's Weekly 02/27/1864


CONGRESS.

Senate.—February 10. Mr. Trumbull, from the Judi-
ciary Committee, reported adversely to the joint resolu-
tion for amending the Constitution just proposed by Mr.
Sumner, which reads, “Every where within the limits of
the United States and each State and Territory thereof all
persons are equal before the law, so that no person can
hold another as a slave.” Some time before Mr. Hender-
son, of Missouri, had offered a joint resolution to a similar
purport. In lieu of this the Committee presented the fol-
lowing joint resolution for amending the Constitution:
“Article 13, Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary
servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the
party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within
the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this arti-
cle by appropriate legislation
.” This article, if two-thirds
of both Houses of Congress concur, is to be proposed to the
Legislatures of the several States, and when ratified by
three-fourths of these, to be valid as a part of the Constitu-
tion.—Mr. Clark offered a resolution ratifying the Presi-
dent's Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, and
giving it the force of a statute: referred.—Mr. Brown of-
fered amendments to the Enlistment bill, confirming the
Emancipation Proclamation, abolishing slavery, and sub-
jecting colored persons to enrollment under the same ap-
portionment as other citizens.—The Military Committee
reported adversely to Mr. Grimes's bill reducing the sal-
aries of military officers not in the field or without com-
mand.—Mr. Sumner brought up the case of a colored sur-
geon of the army who had been ejected from a railroad car
in the District, and offered a resolution directing the Com-
mittee on the District to inquire into the expediency of a
law securing to colored persons equal privileges with whites
in the cars within the District. He said that this officer,
who held a rank equal to that of Major, had been ejected
from a street car because he was black. We had better
break up all these railroads if we could not have them
without such outrages, which did more to injure our cause
abroad and at home than the loss of a battle. Mr. Hen-
dricks thought the outrage was on the other side; there
were cars for colored people, and this person declined to
ride with people of his own color, and wished to force him-
self upon white people; referring to remarks of Senators
that it was no disgrace to ride with colored men, and
that the outrage was as great as though a Senator of the
United States had been ejected, he said that there seemed
to be a determination to force social as well as political
equality with the blacks upon the white race. The peo-
ple of his State would never adopt that sentiment. Mr.
Wilson rejoined that he had no wish to force negro equal-
ity upon the Senator from Indiana; he wished only to let
every man assume the station which God intended him to
attain: resolution passed, 30 to 10.—The bill prohibiting
Members of Congress and Heads of Departments from re-
ceiving any compensation for acting as counsel, etc., in
any case in which the United States are concerned, under
penalty of fine, imprisonment, and disqualification for of-
fice, came up and was debated: the clause relating to
Members of Congress was stricken out, 26 to 14: laid over.
—The bill equalizing the pay of all soldiers was brought
up; debate arising upon the section giving colored soldiers
equal pay with whites prior to the passage of the bill, its
consideration was postponed.—February 11. Some busi-
ness of minor importance was transacted.—The Post-office
Committee reported a bill removing disqualifications on
account of color in carrying the mail, and also declaring
that no witness shall, in the United States Courts, be dis-
qualified on account of color.—The Lieutenant-General bill
from the House was brought up and discussed, the point
being the amendment against making that officer Com-
mander-in-chief, and striking out the name of General
Grant. Senators opposed to this amendment said that to
bestow the title without the command would be but an
empty honor conferred upon one who now had the homage
of the people: postponed.—February 12. The Senate
was occupied with various business of no very general im-
portance, except that the House bill making appropria-
tion to meet deficiencies is amended by authorizing the
appointment for a limited period of one thousand addition-
al clerks, who may be females, at a salary not exceeding
$600 a year.—February 13. The Secretary of War sent
in a communication relative to military officers' commu-
tations for quarters and fuel; there were 387 officers draw-
ing such commutations, of whom 27 were generals, 52 col-
onels and lieutenant-colonels, the remainder being of low-
er ranks, 79 being paymasters.—A memorial from the Mil-
waukee Chamber of Commerce was presented and referred,
asking for a wagon-road through Central Minnesota to
Idaho; it stated that within a few months $25,000,000
had been mined, which was now waiting egress through
such a road with proper military protection.—The bill for
regulating the pay of colored soldiers was brought up and
discussed, the principal objection to it being its retrospect-
ive feature; upon motion of Mr. Wilson it was amended
so as to give them the same pay as others from January
1, 1864, instead of for the whole time they have been in
service; Mr. Cowan then moved, as a substitute for the
bill, that from the date of the passage of this Act all sol-
diers of the United States of the same arm of the service
should receive like compensation; he said that the negro
had a legal status under the Constitution which protected
him, and that, as he received the protection of the laws,
he must be regarded as a citizen under the Constitution.
Mr. Saulsbury said that if this was the basis of Mr. Cow-
an's substitute he should oppose it; the old-fashioned term
was “negro,” now these people were “colored citizens.”
Pending action on Mr. Cowan's substitute the Senate ad-
journed to Monday, February 15.—February 15. Mr.
Foster introduced a bill defining the position and duties
of chaplains in the army; it gives them the rank of major
of infantry, allows them to hold pastoral charges, requires
them to preach twice a week, hold religious meetings twice
a week, and keep the libraries for the use of the soldiers.—
The Enrollment bill, as amended by the House, was taken
up and considered; the Senate refused to recede from its
provisions.—The Deficiency bill from the House was pass-
ed, with an amendment increasing the salaries of the As-
sistant Secretaries of the Departments and Post-office to
$3500 after the present fiscal year.—February 16. Bills
granting lands for certain military roads in Oregon were
passed.—Bill extending the statute of limitations in cases
where the execution of the laws has been interrupted in
consequence of the rebellion was introduced.—Mr. Doolit-
tle introduced a bill regulating trade with Indian tribes;
it prohibits, under penalty of fine, imprisonment, and for-
feiture, the sale of spirits to Indians.—Mr. Lane, of Kan-
sas, spoke at length in favor of the bill setting apart a por-
tion of Texas for the use of persons of African descent.—
Mr. Cowan's amendment to the Enlistment bill came up,
giving equal pay, etc., to all soldiers. Mr. Davis pro-
posed an amendment to the effect that colored troops
should be disbanded, and colored men be employed in the
army only as laborers and teamsters; that for slaves so
employed loyal masters should be compensated; and if he
died in service the master should receive the full value
for him. Mr. Davis spoke at length in support of his
amendment.—A message was received from the House
announcing its adherence to its amendments of the En-
rollment bill, and asking a Committee of Conference.
The Senate resolved to adhere to its amendments, and
authorized the Chair to appoint a Committee of Confer-
ence.


House.—February 10. Mr. Eliot, from the Select Com-
mittee, reported a bill to establish a Bureau of Freedman's
Affairs, to determine all questions relating to persons of
African descent, and make regulations for their employ-
ment and proper treatment on abandoned plantations.
Mr. Clay, of Kentucky, wished to know whether his State
was to be included in the operations of the bill, and
whether plantations there were to be considered as aban-
doned: he himself owned a plantation which had been aban-
doned because Government did not protect it. Mr. Eliot
replied that the bill did not propose to establish colonies
in Kentucky; that in the case of plantations there, wheth-
er they were to be considered as abandoned would depend
upon whether the owners were loyal or disloyal; that in
the case of Mr. Clay, a well-known loyal man, his planta-
tion certainly would not be considered abandoned.—The
Senate amendments to the Internal Revenue bill were re-
ferred to the Committee on Ways and Means.—The En-
rollment bill was taken up, and sundry amendments were
proposed and rejected. Mr. Stevens offered an amend-
ment enrolling all persons of African descent of military
age; and when a slave is drafted $300 shall be paid to his
owner, and the slave be freed. Debate ensued, mainly
between members from the Border States: the main points
being, on the one side, that slaves were property, and
could not be taken for public purposes without compensa-
tion; and, upon the other, that they were persons, and so
owed military service: postponed.—February 11. After
some routine business a Select Committee was voted, to in-
quire into the expediency of increasing the facilities for the
transportation of troops between New York and Washing-
ton.—The Enrollment bill then came up. Mr. Stevens, at
the request of Mr. Davis, withdrew the $300 feature from
his amendment offered yesterday, and Mr. Davis offered
another amendment, appointing a commission to pay to
loyal masters a sum not exceeding $300 for slaves volun-
teering in the army. Mr. Webster offered an amendment
providing that the bounty of $100 now paid to drafted men
shall be paid to any person to whom the person drafted
may owe service or labor at the time of his muster into
service, upon his freeing the person. These amendments
were agreed to, after a long and somewhat desultory de-
bate. In the course of this Mr. Davis said that he moved
his amendment, not because he believed that compensa-
tion was due to the master, but on account of the measures
which Government had already taken. He believed that
Government ought to take slaves for military purposes,
because they owed military service. Mr. Anderson, of
Kentucky, thought the amendment did not go far enough.
In his own district a large majority of the young men had
entered the rebel service, and at the next draft the district
would owe 7000 men; unless the slaves of disloyal men
were taken, those who had induced enlistments in the reb-
el service would enjoy their property in peace, and the
loyal white population must make up the deficiency; he
would put the slaves of disloyal men in the army, but
would not appropriate the slaves of loyal men. Mr. Web-
ster, of Maryland, said that slaves were both persons and
property. We needed colored men to aid in putting down
the rebellion; any black man, having been a soldier, must
be free; he would give freedom to the slave, and com-
pensation to the master. Mr. Harris, of Maryland, denied
the right of Government to enlist or enroll a slave; if
taken, it could only be as property, and compensation must
be made; he was opposed to employing negro troops; it
would be a degradation to intrust our flag to negro hands.
Mr. Kasson rejoined that the employment of negro soldiers
was no new thing; the pension-rolls showed the names of
black men by the side of whites; the statutes of the State
of Virginia provided for the emancipation of slaves who
fought in the War of the Revolution. Mr. Kelley said
that we did not give compensation to the Northern father
for his son, the wife for her husband, the children for the
father taken from them by the conscription; the relation
between slaveholder and slave was not more sacred than
these. Slaves were persons, and as such owed military
service to the country; they were never referred to as
property in the Constitution; he was, however, ready to
appropriate money to pay for slaves of loyal masters, who
should consent to their volunteering. Other members
spoke, on both sides, in the same general strain. Toward
the close of the debate Mr. Fernando Wood said that while
we were here proposing measures oppressive and destruc-
tive, and clearly in violation of the Constitution, the Con-
federates were proposing to discuss measures of peace, re-
union, and reconciliation. Quoting from the Richmond
Examiner, he said that resolutions were before the Con-
federate Congress proposing that the Confederate States
ask the United States to appoint delegates, to consider (1.)
Whether they can not agree to the recognition of the Con-
federacy; (2.) Whether, in this event, they can not agree
upon a new Government; (3.) If this can not be done,
whether they can not agree upon treaties offensive, defens-
ive, and commercial; if these resolutions passed, the
President of the Confederacy was to be requested to com-
municate them to the Government at Washington, and,
if the proposition was accepted, to issue a proclamation for
the election of delegates to meet those appointed by the
United States. Mr. Cox said that the proposition before
the Congress at Richmond looked to peace on the basis of
the old Union. He proposed that commissioners should
be sent to Richmond; if Mr. Wood was sent, and if he did
not come back within sixty days with a negotiation of
peace, based on the old Union, with equality and sover-
eignty of the States, he would pledge that gentleman and
his friends as earnest supporters of the prosecution of the
war. After various other propositions had been disposed
of, Mr. Schenck offered a substitute for the bill, embracing
the whole as it had been finally agreed upon.—Febru-
ary
12. The Enrollment bill came up, and debate having
been shut off by calling the previous question, and sundry
propositions for adjournment and delay having been re-
jected, it was pressed to a vote. The main amendment,
providing for the enrollment of all persons of African de-
scent of military age, paying the $100 bounty to the loy-
al person to whom any drafted person may owe service or
labor, upon his freeing the drafted person, and appointing
a commission to award a compensation not exceeding $300
to any loyal person to whom a colored volunteer may owe
service, was agreed to by 84 to 67. Mr. Schenck's substi-
tute, embracing the entire bill as finally amended, was
then taken up and voted upon: it passed by 93 to 60.
The bill which thus passed the House embraces a great
number of provisions, of which the following are the most
essential: (§ 1.) The President may call out such number
of men as the public exigencies may require: (§ 2.) The
quota of each district to be as nearly as possible in propor-
tion to the number of persons in it subject to draft, taking
into account the number already furnished to the naval
and military service; (§ 3.) If the quota of any State is not
duly filled, drafts for any deficient district shall be order-
ed until the deficiency shall be supplied; (§ 4.) Any en-
rolled person may furnish a substitute; and if this substi-
tute is not liable to draft or in the service, the principal
will be exempt during the time for which the substitute
would be exempt, but no one in military or naval service
shall be accepted as a substitute; (§ 5.) All persons liable
to draft shall be enrolled; this comprises in effect all able-
bodied males below the age of 45, including aliens who
have declared their intentions of becoming citizens, and
all who, without having been in service two years during
the present war, shall have been discharged; (§ 6.) Any
person drafted may furnish a substitute at any time before
the time fixed for his appearance at rendezvous; if the
substitute is not liable to draft, the principal is exempt
during the time of such non-liability, not exceeding the
time for which the draft was made; if the substitute is li-
able to draft, the principal is liable to future drafts; any
person paying money for commutation is exempted only
from the special quota; and in no case shall such exemp-
tion extend beyond one year, at the end of which his name
must be placed in enrollment; (§ 7.) Members of religious
denominations whose rules prohibit the bearing of arms
shall, when drafted, be considered non-combatants, and
be assigned to duty in hospitals, or to the care of freed-
men, or shall pay $300, the money to be applied to the
benefit of sick or wounded soldiers; but no person shall be
entitled to the benefit of this provision unless he shows
that his conduct has been uniformly consistent with his
professed principles; (§ 8.) No person of foreign birth who
has voted or held office is exempt from draft on the ground
of alienage; (§ 9.) Mariners or able seamen who may be
drafted may, upon enlisting in the navy, be exempt from
draft, under conditions which are prescribed; but the
number of these transfer enlistments shall not exceed ten
thousand; (§ 10, 11, 12.) Make provisions for carrying out
the preceding section, the principal of which is that such
transfer drafts shall be credited to the quota of the district,
as though the person had been actually placed in the army;
and that no pilot, engineer, master-at-arms, master, en-
sign, or master's mate, having an appointment and duly
acting as such in the naval service, shall be liable to draft
while holding such appointment; (§ 13.) Declares the only
exemptions to be those who are physically, mentally, or
morally unfit for service; those who at the time of draft
shall actually be in military or naval service; and those
who, having been for two years in service, shall have been
honorably discharged; (§ 14.) Repeals the clause in the
existing Enrollment bill making two classes, the first con-
sisting of unmarried persons and those married below the
age of 35, the second class embracing all others; all per-
sons liable to draft are thus consolidated into one class,
and are equally liable to military duty; (§ 15-25.) Provide
for the execution of the law, and impose heavy penalties
for all fraudulent attempts at their violation or evasion on
the part of persons liable to enrollment, or of any officers
charged with carrying them into effect; (§ 26) Enacts that
all able-bodied male persons of African descent, between
the ages of 20 and 45, resident in the United States, wheth-
er citizens or not, shall be enrolled; that when the slave
of a loyal master is drafted and mustered into service, the
master shall have a certificate thereof, and the bounty of
$100 shall be paid to any person to whom the recruit, at
the time of his being mustered into service, owes service
or labor, on his freeing the recruit; that the Secretary of
War shall appoint a commission in each Slave State rep-
resented in Congress, who shall award to any loyal person
to whom the colored volunteer owes service a sum not ex-
ceeding $300, payable out of commutation money, upon
the master freeing the slave; and that in all cases where
slaves have been enlisted the provision as to bounty and
compensation shall be the same as in the case of those to
be enlisted; (§ 27.) Repeals all sections of the existing En-
rollment act which are inconsistent with this.—The House
then adjourned to Monday, February 15.—February
15. Several bills were introduced and reported from Com-
mittees. The principal of these are to the following pur-
port: Extending the time for withdrawing goods from pub-
lic stores and warehouses; Granting lands to the Pacific
Railroad and Telegraph Company; For a uniform system
of bankruptcy; Establishing a branch mint in Idaho Ter-
ritory; For constructing a ship canal around Niagara
Falls.—Mr. Windom offered a joint resolution proposing
to amend the Constitution so as to prohibit slavery in the
United States and Territories: referred.—The Judiciary
Committee were directed to inquire into the expediency
of establishing an Executive Department, to be called that
of the Revenue, to have charge of the Customs, Internal
Revenue, and Currency.—Mr. Arnold offered a resolution
declaring that “The Constitution of the United States
should be so amended as to abolish slavery in the United
States wherever it now exists, and to prohibit its extension
in every part thereof forever
.” A motion to lay on the
table was rejected, 79 to 58, and the resolution passed, 78
to 62.—Mr. Stevens, from the Committee on Ways and
Means, reported back the Senate's amendments to the In-
ternal Revenue bill. The bill of the Senate, he said, was
preferable to what had been agreed to in the House as to
the tax on spirits, and the date of its going into effect.
The Committee were of opinion that all taxes should be
prospective; manufacturers had received a virtual pledge
to this effect. As a revenue measure also the Senate bill
was preferable. The amount of spirits on hand which the
House proposed to tax did not amount to more than
10,000,000 gallons, upon which the tax would be $4,000,000;
but practically not more than half of this would be taxed.
The Senate bill would after the 1st of January yield
$14,000,000 or $15,000,000. Mr. Fernando Wood said that
the tax on spirits on hand would yield $10,000,000. He
himself knew three men who had on hand nearly 5,000,000
gallons.—Mr. Davis, from Select Committee on Insurrec-
tionary States, reported a bill giving to certain States
whose Governments have been usurped or overthrown a
republican form of government.—February 16. After
routine business the question of reception and reference of
the credentials of Mr. Johnson, who appeared as Represent-
ative from Arkansas, was taken up. A discussion ensued,
which elicited the fact that there was a wide difference
in the views of Republican members upon the question
whether there was really any State of Arkansas now ex-
isting and entitled to be represented in Congress. Finally
the whole subject was referred to the Committee on Elec-
tions.—The Revenue bill was brought up with the amend-
ments of the Senate. That imposing a duty of 70 cents
upon all distilled or removed from July 1 to January 1,
and 80 cents thereafter was disagreed with, 105 to 41;
that striking out tax on all spirits now on hand was agreed
with, 77 to 73; and that striking out the additional tax
of 20 cents on adulterated spirits, sold as rum, brandy, etc.,
was agreed to.



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